Emergency Vaccine Clinics

Program Overview

We provide in-field vaccination clinics, licensed by the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA), in response to canine distemper outbreaks. Over a weekend, volunteers go door to door and up to 300 dogs have been vaccinated.

What is Canine Distemper?

Canine Distemper is a highly contagious and deadly virus that impacts several body systems, including the gastrointestinal, respiratory, spinal cord and brain. There is no cure, only symptomatic treatment and it can be prevented with vaccination.

Common symptoms may include:

  • No symptoms
  • High fever
  • Labored breathing, coughing
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, salivation
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Neurological, twitching, circling, seizures
  • Abnormal behaviour, sensitivity to light or touch
  • Thickened footpads

Death may result 2-5 weeks after the initial infection. Dogs that survive and fully recover do not spread or carry the virus. However, survivors may show the following lasting signs:

  • A small tic, twitch or jaw chatter
  • Thickened footpads or nose
  • Damage to the enamel of the teeth (puppies)
  • Seizures

How does Canine Distemper spread?

  1. Airborne transmission – when an infected dog or other animal coughs or sneezes. In the event they can not be isolated they need to be housed at least 6 ft from other dogs to prevent airborne transmission. 
  2. Sharing of contaminated objects – water and food bowls as well as toys, blankets, and bedding can spread the virus from dog to dog. 
  3. Direct contact with infected dogs or other animals – if a dog ingests or inhales the infected saliva, mucus, urine, or blood of an infected dog or wild animal (foxes, wolves, coyotes, skunks, raccoons, mink, weasels, martin, fisher, otters, badgers, wolverines, and ferrets).
  4. Mother to offspring – pregnant mothers are able to spread the virus to their unborn puppies through the placenta.

How long does canine distemper virus survive in the environment?

  1. Object exposure – (people, crates, vehicles) the virus will typically die in minutes to a couple of hours, faster in dry warm conditions, slower in cold wet conditions. It is not durable and can be easily killed with most veterinary cleaners.
  2. Organic material – (deceased animals, feces) the virus typically can survive 2-4 weeks, but if frozen and protected from sunlight 1 year +.

What should I do if I think my dog has distemper?

Please isolate your dog from other dogs, and call your veterinary hospital. If you need further assistance please call a Task Force Team member at 403-797-3647

The Task Force needs YOUR help!

On November 25, 2022, the Task Force had an intake of over 90 cats from a single property in Southern Alberta. 

The cats will be triaged and housed temporarily at the Task Force office until they receive veterinary care. They will need to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and treated for parasites. Others will require more extensive veterinary care such as dental work. Each of these cats deserves the opportunity to receive the care they need, and we are committed to making that happen. Which is why we are putting out a plea for help.  Heather Waddell, an avid animal lover and longtime supporter of the Task Force, has graciously pledged to match all donations made up to $10,000! Please consider donating today in order for your donation to be matched!  Thank you to Heather, our INCREDIBLE volunteers and supporters for making our work possible! With animal shelters and rescue groups operating at full capacity our goal is that the cats, once healthy, will be placed with animal welfare organizations throughout the province to be adopted. We encourage everyone that has considered fostering or adopting an animal to reach out to your local animal welfare organization as the timing couldn't be any more dire.

Click Here to donate today!


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